Illinois Ensures Women Won’t Have to Risk Miscarriage to Stay on the Job
She is just one of the women in the state of Illinois who will no longer have to choose between having a healthy pregnancy or keeping their jobs. On Thursday, a bill to protect pregnant workers unanimously passed both houses of the state legislature. Gov. Pat Quinn has promised to sign what he called an “important” bill.
According to Women Employed, which has worked to pass the bill, it would require employers to make “reasonable accommodations” for pregnant workers or other conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth unless it would impose undue hardship. Those accommodations are often simple, such as Holmes’s request to switch to light duty, more frequent bathroom or hydration breaks, or getting a stool to sit on. It’s modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act and would give pregnant workers the same treatment as other disabled workers.
While the Pregnancy Discrimination Act bars employers from discriminating against their workers on the basis of pregnancy and childbirth, pregnant workers are still frequently forced to work in unhealthy conditions or to leave their jobs altogether when they need a small change to stay. Nearly two-thirds of women report working during their pregnancies, and the vast majority of those needed some small change to remain on the job. Yet more than a quarter million women are denied those requests each year and more than 40 percent of women who had recently given birth didn’t even bring up their needs for an accommodation.